IT’S ARGUABLY one of the city’s best kept secrets, but it’s also one of the biggest gatherings in the suburb of Coledale each week.
The Cornerstone Kitchen, managed by volunteers from Tamworth’s Cornerstone Church, is run out of the Coledale Community Centre each and every Tuesday but its existence is unknown too many.
The kitchen was the brian child of Coledale-based Aboriginal elder and Cornerstone church member Susanne Bissett in 2007.
Ms Bissett identified the need for an outreach services that could provide a home-cooked meal to people in the suburb free of charge once a week.
The idea and her vision was adopted by the church and has continued to grow ever since.
Cornerstone Kitchen committee member Sussan Adams said since the kitchen was established between 80 and 120 people from the Coledale community had attended the dinner each week.
“The kitchen provides a healthy, two or three course meal for individuals and families who may be struggling financially to provide enough food for themselves and their families,” she said.
Such is the nature of the kitchen that it isn’t uncommon for young children to attend on their own.
“The idea, when the kitchen was founded, was to create a homely space, where all people were welcome,” Mrs Adams said.
“We have endeavoured in every way to continue to make the kitchen feel like a welcoming and safe place.”
Ms Bissett passed away last year but the group of volunteers, many of them “die-hards”, are keen to ensure the service continues.
“We rely on support from community organisations to purchase supplies and food items,” she said.
In 2013, support will also come from Tamworth Regional Council, who recently awarded the program a grant which will be used to help purchase crockery, a new fridge and other utensils and cooking items for the kitchen.
Joblink Plus is also a strong supporter, over the past four years it has contributed grants to supply the kitchen’s foods.
Mrs Adams said the grant money would help to continue Ms Bissett’s vision.
“She was very adamant that there be proper table service, cutlery, cloths and table covers,” Mrs Adams said.
“As a committee we are determined to stay true to that vision.”
This year’s kitchen Christmas celebration was one of the largest in its history.
More than 200 people attended the function last week.
“We served 120 children’s meals,” Mrs Adams said.
The meal, which included a proper Christmas roast – chicken, ham and pork – roast vegetables, and a dessert of pavlova and traditional Christmas pudding.
“Children in attendance were passed out gift bags and a short Christmas ceremony and carols were also a part of the celebration,” Mrs Adams said.
Mrs Adams said the huge benefit of the kitchen was the sense of community it created.
“It’s an opportunity for people to come together each week, share a meal, feel safe,” she said.
“Amid all the negative stories and perceptions that people associate with Coledale as a suburb sometimes, the kitchen is proof that there are wonderful people here, who have vision for their community,” she said.